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Let’s Talk Robots – How Will the Forces of Creative Destruction Impact the Title Industry?

By Mark Fleming and Paul Stine

We’ve all heard that artificial intelligence (AI), robots and automation will soon replace our jobs and many people feel real angst because of the perceived threat to their livelihoods. Yet, automation angst is not new. 

The term luddite, one who is resistant to technological change, exists because Ned Ludd led an uprising of handloom weavers in 1779 to protest the adoption of mechanical, steam-powered looms. Ned and handloom weavers were not alone in the industrial revolution. After World War II, automation angst appeared again with the mechanization of agriculture in the U.S. Today, the angst is based on the belief that the information revolution and advances in AI will make robots smart enough to take over many of the jobs humans perform today.

With each “revolution” jobs that humans performed are replaced by machines, but new jobs are created. Think of all the people building mechanical looms, farm tractors or apps for your smartphone. This process of creative destruction is one of the primary reasons economic productivity, the amount of work output one can produce per hour, is almost 4.5 times greater that it was 70 years ago. AI should not be feared as it represents the opportunity to innovate in ways we have not thought possible before and make us more productive and better enabled to do our jobs.

Automation chart

More importantly, AI is already here. Over 80 percent of people have used AI in some form in the last year. And 50 percent of people interacted with AI in the last year without even realizing it.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Consider the following examples of AI we utilize on a daily basis without even knowing it:

  1. Email Spam Filters
  2. Predictive Search Terms
  3. SIRI
  4. Online Virtual Assistants
  5. Facebook Recommended News
  6. Online Shopping Recommendations
  7. Home Virtual Assistants (Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod)
  8. Reverse Image Searches

Not that scary, huh? In fact, most AI is extremely helpful and makes our lives better. In fact, Google’s AI will soon be calling restaurants and theaters to secure reservations and movie tickets for you. These examples just start to scratch the surface of the benefits AI can provide.

As it relates to customer service, AI is changing the landscape. 81 percent of consumers now say that businesses are meeting or exceeding customer service expectations, but the way that service is being provided is changing. Today, more than 6 out of 10 U.S. consumers say their preferred channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-service tool.

That’s a LOT of people. And in the title industry, we’re focused on the needs of the consumer, as well as the Realtor and mortgage professionals involved in a transaction. And each of these customers is demanding digital tools.

With all that in mind, here are three digital self-service tools to consider when shifting your customer service strategy to keep up with customer demand:

  1. Chatbots

Chatbots are defined as, “a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet.” Or in other words, virtual assistants/companions that communicate with us through text messages, websites, applications or messengers. Believe it or not, 80 percent of businesses want to deploy a chatbot by 2020 and 85 percent of consumers prefer to interact with a bot.

The good news is that implementing a simple chatbot is pretty easy. Most of the high-rated providers claim a 15-60-minute implementation time. So, even if you multiply that implementation time by five (because we all know tech typically takes just a little longer than you think), it’s still very reasonable in terms of the return it could provide.

  1. AI Virtual Email Assistants

Have any idea how much time you and/or your employees spend in email every day? Perhaps we’d prefer not to know. Yikes! AI virtual assistants can help you automatically read, route and respond to emails. In title, we’re opening and closing orders all month long. While there are always complex problems to solve, there are opportunities to enhance efficiency that could free you and your team up to be more strategic and drive your business forward.

  1. The Smart Speaker

With Google Home and Apple’s HomePod entering the market, the smart speaker went from a gimmicky Amazon concept to a full-blown product category. Ok, so perhaps Amazon would argue that it had already done that, but analysts predict it will be a $12 billion market by 2023. It might sound like a stretch, but the smart speaker is the next frontier for customer service. Giving customers on-demand information through Alexa, Google Home or HomePod raises the bar in terms of meeting customers where they currently are, and more importantly, where they will be. Like chatbots, building an Alexa “skill” isn’t terribly difficult, and you could be up and running more quickly than you think.

Creative destruction can mean a lot of things and can take on many shapes and sizes. AI is driving creative destruction in customer service and offering new opportunities to change how we’re approaching it. Remember that more than six out of 10 U.S. consumers prefer a digital self-driven customer service tool. The good news is that AI-driven customer service is more attainable than ever. We can and must adopt new technologies to drive our businesses forward.

Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American Financial, and Paul Stine, co-founder of CloseSimple, will discuss this topic during the session “Let’s Talk Robots” at ALTA ONE. Make sure to stop by for more ideas on how you can start bringing AI into your customer service offering. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.


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